The Talmud (Shabbos 31a) relates how someone tried to get the great sage Hillel angry by continually interrupting him on Friday afternoon when he was in the middle of bathing for Shabbos. Although the man asked Hillel ridiculous and irrelevant questions, Hillel answered him patiently.
The Talmud says we all need to strive to reach this level of humility. That is, we are all obligated to work on ourselves to develop the total patience of Hillel whom no one could anger. See my book, “Anger: The Inner Teacher” (ArtScroll) for elaboration of a nine-step program for conquering anger.
Sources: see Rabbi Yechezkail Levenstein – Ohr Yechezkail, Midos, p.14
When someone comes to ask your advice, your obligation is to give him the same advice you would need to hear if you were in his position. Focus only on the welfare of the person you are talking to, and not on any personal benefit you might derive from giving a particular type of advice. If you are unable to do this, then you should not be giving any advice at all!
The next time someone asks you for advice, view this person as yourself or as your beloved child. What is the absolutely best advice you could give?
Sources: see Rabbi Moshe Chaim Luzzatto; Path of the Just, ch. 11
Each person thinks differently. If you have a problem and consult a number of people, you will hear diverse opinions. Therefore, after gathering all the different opinions, consult one wise person and present the various opinions you’ve heard. With his wisdom, he will be able to help you formulate a final opinion based on all the interviews you have conducted.
Even when making the final decision yourself, it is wise to ask different people for their opinions, to get a more comprehensive picture of your options.
Today, pick a problem… and ask around!
Sources: see Vilna Gaon – Proverbs 11:14; Rabbi Zelig Pliskin – “Consulting the Wise”
Every person is obligated to be aware that he has great worth. This does not refer to the illusory self-worth of arrogantly feeling better than others, but a true self-worth, enormous in size and scope. The Talmud says: “Every individual is obligated to say: ‘The world was created for me.'” Rashi explains that we must think “I have the importance of an entire world.”
Every human is a one-time phenomenon, with a unique blend of character traits and personality. Each is born in a specific time of history and in a specific environment. Never before and never again.
This uniqueness gives you great importance. Only you can accomplish your unique life tasks.
Sources: Alai Shur, vol.1, p.168; Gateway to Happiness, p.120
It is easy for a person who feels less intelligent than others to have low self-esteem. This is unnecessary. While there are many advantages in having intelligence (for Torah study and other pragmatic reasons), when it comes to basic value of a person, intelligence is not a key factor. You can be righteous regardless of your intellectual ability. Similarly, intelligence is not a decisive factor in whether or not a person will be happy in life.
Since you can be both righteous and happy no matter what your level of intelligence, there is no necessity in feeling less of a person if others seem “smarter” than you.
-from Rabbi Zelig Pliskin’s book, “Gateway to Happiness,” p.123
When fighting against the evil inclination, use the same strategy he uses. When he tries to prevent you from doing good deeds, tell him, ‘It’s just for this once,’ or, ‘I’m only going to start doing a little bit,’ and similar statements that will enable you to get started. This way of talking to yourself lessens the difficulty of a task.
Think of a good deed that you would want to do, but don’t do because you feel it will be difficult for you to continue doing it. Imagine that you will do it only once. Then take action.
Sources: see Rabbi Eliyahu Eliezer Dessler – Michtav MaiEliyahu, vol. 3, p.293; Rabbi Zelig Pliskin’s “Consulting the Wise”
Arrogance is one of the most negative traits, and it leads to many counterproductive words and actions.
What’s the antidote for arrogance? Awareness of the enormous size of the universe – and our microscopic position in comparison.
In every Jewish blessing, we say the words “King of the Universe,” which is a constant reinforcement to eliminate arrogance.
Sources: For a series of probing questions on this topic, see Rabbi Zelig Pliskin’s “Gateway to Self Knowledge,”pp.127-9
Giving positive advice to people who are open to hearing it, is one of the greatest acts of kindness you can do.
Be careful not to give advice when it is unwanted, even if you are well-meaning. A prerequisite for giving advice is to have the humility not to give advice unless you are certain it will have a positive outcome.
How you give advice is often a key factor in whether or not it will be appreciated. Giving positive advice takes great skill.
Sources: For a series of probing questions on this topic, see Rabbi Zelig Pliskin’s “Gateway to Self Knowledge,” pp.104-6
When you are confident that you can do something, that itself mobilizes more of your talents and skills.
Increase your appreciation for the Almighty’s power and how He can give you the Divine assistance to succeed. This is the ultimate way to increase your level of confidence.
See Rabbi Zelig Pliskin’s “Gateway to Self Knowledge,” pp.171
If we truly appreciate the gift of life that the Almighty gave us, we will constantly say, “No complaints, I’m alive.”
When you experience joy for being alive, these positive feelings create a context that free you from the thoughts and feelings that create complaints.
Sources: For a series of probing questions on this topic, see Rabbi Zelig Pliskin’s “Gateway to Self Knowledge,” pp.164-7